WHAT IS ANXIETY?
Anxiety is one of the two most-used terms for mental health disorders. A mental health disorder can cover a wide range of symptoms and reactions, but in essence, it is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood and ability to relate to others which results in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of daily life.
DIAGNOSIS IN CHINESE MEDICINE
Chinese Medicine does not recognise any mental disorder as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to address the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual. So when I see two people, both suffering from anxiety, they will each receive a unique customised assessment using different acupuncture points, different Tui Na methods, and different lifestyle and dietary advice. I also take into account the physical and emotional symptoms they are experiencing together with Chinese pulse and tongue diagnosis plus how they look, move and speak.
In Chinese Medicine, mental health disorders are not just in the mind. An imbalance in the body causes the disorder. This can be from an excess or deficiency of Yin and Yang; instead of their being in harmonious balance within the body they are pulling against each other and disrupting the flow of Blood and Qi.
WHAT IS QI?
In Chinese Medicine, there is a life force known as Qi (pronounced Chee) which flows through meridians which connect all our major organs. Illness arises when the flow of Qi becomes imbalanced. It may get blocked, it may flow the wrong way, become too weak or too strong. Qi is the vital energy in all living things, an energy derived from food, air and inherited constitution. Qi is necessary for growth, mental health and protection against illness and disease.
FIVE ELEMENT PRINCIPLES
In Eastern philosophy, the Five Elements refer to Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. In Chinese Medicine each element is associated with certain mental/emotional states:
Wood (Liver) – Anger, jealousy, frustration, resentment, bitterness and stress
Fire (Heart) – Mania, anxiety and over-excitation
Earth (Spleen) – over-thinking, pensiveness and worry
Metal (Lung) – Grief and sadness
Water (Kidney) – Depression and lack of will.
Usually, a Chinese Medicine diagnosis will involve a mixture of these elements but one is likely to dominate and acupuncture will focus along that particular channel. However, the Liver organ is the most sensitive to emotional distress and the Liver channel will usually be included in many cases of mental health disorder. Acupuncture smooths the flow of Liver Qi helping correct any imbalance.
THE BRITISH ACUPUNCTURE COUNCIL
The British Acupuncture Council has a list of research sheets publishing its views on the effectiveness of acupuncture for different conditions. Their website can give you a general overview and research information for anxiety and panic attacks.
This interesting article gives the Acupuncture Council of Ireland’s views on acupuncture for anxiety.
I have also used Tuina massage to help re-balance people’s bodies. In Tuina massage, it is understood that people’s bodies react to emotions and over time that reaction becomes more and more fixed within the body. Someone who is often angry tends to get tight neck and shoulder muscles with temporal headaches. Relaxing these muscles can help the person to let go of the anger. Another classic area of “holding” within the body is the diaphragm. It is as if the person is constantly holding their breath, often to hold onto emotions rather than letting them out. This results in the diaphragm eventually being unable to move properly and the person only being able to take relatively shallow breaths. This then affects the flow of Qi throughout the body and consequently affects mental well-being. Many types of therapies concentrate on correct breathing and with good reason. This simple act which we all do unconsciously every day, but so many of us have lost the ability to do correctly, has a negative effect on our bodies. Therefore when someone is suffering from anxiety or depression I will often spend time with them concentrating on moving their diaphragm when they breathe and using Tuina massage to help loosen the movement.
Following a recent project between Anxiety UK and the British Acupuncture Council, Anxiety UK are now recommending acupuncture as an effective therapy.
I am an Anxiety UK Approved Practitioner providing support to the charity’s members. As such I have treated a number of patients for anxiety with very good results.
I am subject to Anxiety UK’s regular monitoring of my professional qualifications, supervision, continual professional development, insurance and professional body membership in addition to complying with the ethical framework and professional standards set down by my registered governing body. You can also visit Jackie Graham at the Bridge to Health Clinic. If you are finding that anxiety is severely affecting your life and you want to find a treatment that may be able to help you, give acupuncture for depression and anxiety a try. Call me on 07733274745 for a free consultation or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How many acupuncture treatments will I need to treat my anxiety?
This is always a difficult one to answer because it very much depends on what is causing your anxiety and how long you have had it. I generally say to people to give acupuncture a minimum of 6 goes. Acupuncture is not a magic wand and the treatment effects build over a period of time. I would expect to see a new patient on a weekly basis. Once the symptoms are under control I then move the treatments to fortnightly and gradually lengthen the time between appointments as the condition improves. Many anxiety patients continue to come over a period of time, sometimes once a month or even once every 6 weeks, to maintain the benefits.
Does Acupuncture for Anxiety work?
In my experience, it can work very well. Please see the testimonials below.
Where are the acupuncture points for anxiety?
As stated previously the causes of anxiety from a Chinese medicine point of view can vary, so there is not a protocol for treating anxiety. There are some points which are known for their calming properties so it is likely that these will be used at some point, but nothing is set in stone.
“I currently suffer from severe anxiety and panic attacks which I have had for 18 months. Before I started acupuncture I struggled to do basic everyday tasks such as working, shopping and driving my car. After having 16 sessions on a weekly basis I feel like I am starting to get my life back. I am able to do all these things now and I feel like I have energy which was also very low before starting acupuncture. Jackie has been amazing, and I cannot thank her enough for all her hard work in getting me where I am today. I had never experience acupuncture before seeing Jackie and was actually a little afraid of needles, but she made me feel relaxed straight away and made the whole experience that much better. I am definitely going to continue having acupuncture as I am hooked. The benefits I get from having it is amazing, I am also getting comments from friends and family saying how much better I seem and look.”
“Following the very helpful referral by Mathieu Rossano (who is easily the top Osteo in this area) I undertook a course of treatments with Jackie. Jackie was amazingly supportive, always very flexible, and above all else a calming influence through a difficult transitional period. Her knowledge of acupuncture, Tui Na (‘Chinese massage to release qi and get the energy moving in the meridians and the muscles), and Gua Sha (scraping therapy that releases unhealthy elements from injured areas and stimulates blood flow and healing) are comprehensive and she alters the therapy as needed to match the patients’ needs. Jackie’s professional and knowledgeable approach assisted immensely in my recovery, and more importantly, gave me the knowledge and confidence to be able to better look after myself in the future. I would have no hesitation to highly recommend Jackie to anyone interested in acupuncture and Chinese healing methods. Thank you, Jackie!”
Ali – 40 years